SDSU Faculty Send Letter Condemning Hirshman’s Handling Of Horowitz Fliers
Friday, May 27, 2016
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San Diego State University faculty have sent a letter to the campus' president, Elliot Hirshman, condemning his handling of fliers posted on campus that linked several students to terrorists.
In April, conservative activist David Horowitz posted fliers listing the names of students who support efforts to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel for alleged human rights abuses in Palestine. The fliers said they had "aligned themselves with Palestinian terrorists."
Unlike presidents at other campuses where Horowitz posted fliers, Hirshman did not address the fliers until students protested. His subsequent statement did not condemn them but instead stressed the need for freedom of speech and healthy dialogue on the campus.
Nearly 80 faculty members have since signed on to a letter saying Hirshman's response has allowed an environment in which students who support Palestine or are Muslim cannot feel safe exercising their right to free speech.
"Students engaged in protest actions as a last resort, after unsuccessful attempts to meet with you to discuss what they justifiably viewed as an inadequate response to the flyers," the letter says. "We share their concerns and object to the manner in which your statement … ultimately absolved those directly responsible for inciting hate against our students, while simultaneously calling on students to accept the consequences for having the audacity to express their political viewpoints."
In the letter, faculty members ask Hirshman to issue a statement denouncing allegations against the students. In another open letter to Hirshman, the Center for Constitutional Rights and National Lawyer's Guild suggest the fliers accuse the students of committing a federal crime.
The groups also suggest Hirshman has abdicated his legal responsibilities under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act because all but one of the students listed on the poster are Muslim or of Arab origin. Title VI prohibits discrimination in schools based on race, color or national origin.
In a statement Thursday, Hirshman said: "We appreciate the engagement of our faculty and staff on these important issues. We are working with the University Senate to pursue a campus dialogue that provides members of our community a full opportunity to consider these issues."
After students protested on April 27, Hirshman met with members of the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine to hear their concerns. In a joint statement, Hirshman and the students said they "abhor" bigoted expressions "but recognize their protected status." Hirshman said his administration, in collaboration with student groups, would review the campus' speech policies.
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